Artist Spotlight: mseregon

deviantid_by_mseregon-d55ou3dOne of our favourite artists on deviantart, mseregon, is current creating a new series of drawings which we’ve been following! We pop over often to see what new image has been uploaded. What is this series I hear you ask? It’s a brilliant idea, she’s drawing women who are main characters in various fantastic novels that she’s read. Fan art is such a fantastic way to express and share your feelings with others about a particular book and to extend your time in the world of the characters. So this series is fan art at it’s finest.

Ridley: I just love the way mseregon picks one colour per character and implements it in various parts of the picture, simplistic but very beautiful and effective! It’s also given me more of an appreciate for how many brilliant, strong female main characters there are now in literature. I don’t know why, but when I was much younger, I seemed to find it hard to find books without male leads. Not so now!!

Latimer: I’ve really been enjoying this series so much! mseregon has such a wealth of book knowledge behind her; she’s always picking such great characters to draw! Every time she uploads a new image I’m over in her gallery 🙂 The one colour per character really works so well, very graphic (I can’t wait for the next images!!). 

Here we’ve been given permission to share her pictures with you. Each image has a link to it’s place on her gallery so if you’d like to you can pop over to see more, leave a comment or just tell her how great she is! 🙂

First up we’ve Katniss from the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If you haven’t read these books, definitely check them out!  A great series and the reason behind the new popularity in dystopian novels at the moment!

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Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Our favourite novel with one of the best independent, smart female main characters ever, and not to mention the ultimate fictional crush that can be found in the swoon-worthy Mr Darcy! Elizabeth’s dress is adorable in this and the colour is so pretty.

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Jane Eyre from Jane Eyre 🙂 by Charlotte Bronte. There is something very beautiful about Jane’s plainness.  The grey-blue really suits the character of Jane. This picture conjures up a great image of such a strong character. Makes us want to delve back into Charlotte’s world!

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Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. With her dramatic blue hair in the book, it is the absolutely perfect colour to have picked for her picture. Her laid back pose in this is just brilliant. The book by Laini is a real page turner, some really magical world building to be found in it too.

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Tris from Divergent by Veronica Roth. Now we are both ashamed to say we haven’t read these books yet! They are on our list!! This picture definitely peeks our interest, if we hadn’t already bought the books, we would be a-buying after this. Tris looks like one kick-ass character!

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Sookie from The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. Everyone knows Sookie by now, even if you haven’t read the books you’ve surely seen True Blood, with the  handsome Eric Northman?

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Tessa from The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. If you are currently clueless as to who this is and have never heard of Cassandra Clare, for shame! Get thee to a bookshop, or Amazon! I would recommend City of Bones as your first venture into the Shadowhunter Chronicles.

The purple is really spectacular in this and it’s very similar to how I’ve pictured Tessa too!

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Alina from Shadow and Bone of The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo. Honestly can’t say too much about this yet, it’s one of the next books on the reading list… really can’t wait, it looks like a fantastic story!! Alina looks brilliant in her regal gown 🙂

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Claire Fraser from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. The frills of her dress and her hair are brilliant. Again….Outlander is a series that we need to check out, mseregon is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to book ideas!

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And finally, Temperance from Legend Unleashed by M. Latimer-Ridley…. yes, us! Wow. We were surprised and so happy when one of the next images in the series was our Temperance Levinthal! Look at her, the pose really captures her nonchalant personality!

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This isn’t the end of the series, not yet! mseregon has a few more images up her sleeve, we’ll be certain to follow along until the end!

Look up at them all, they’re so pretty!

If you want to keep up-to-date on mseregon’s works or get some really brilliant book suggestions: you can follow her on twitter, tumblr or deviantart!

Bram Stoker Festival 2012

Spooky, ghoulish goings-on, in the courtyards of Dublin Castle this bank holiday weekend… welcome to Bram Stoker’s imagination!

Ridley: The Bram Stoker festival was packed with things to do all weekend, from talks by Patricia Cornwell, writing workshops for children, plays and discussions on vampires. Christopher Lee was even awarded the Bram Stoker Gold Medal by the Philosophical society in Trinity College for his past role as Dracula. Bram, in his time at Trinity, was the president of this society.

So many of these events were ticket only and sold out quite quickly!

Latimer: We didn’t realise until too late that you had to have tickets for these events! So we really missed out. Derek Landy (author of Skulduggery was talking in one of the theatres) and there were lots of talks about vampires and vampirism in Trinity College (as Ridley says, Bram’s old Alma mater). There were a lot of interesting talks, and I was really disappointed that we didn’t get to go to them! 😦

Ridley: Well, no matter, we did manage to get tickets to one event at least!

We attended a night time, outdoor performance by the award winning street theatre company, Spraoi, in the Grand Courtyard of Dublin Castle. It was held there as Bram used to have a tedious desk job in one of the offices in the castle.

Latimer: I like to imagine Bram sitting at a desk inside the fantastic building that is Dublin Castle, daydreaming about Romania and vampires! I wonder did Dublin Castle spark off any dreams of Vlad’s castle? You can just picture vampire’s roaming the darkness of the Castle courtyards…

Our good friend Orbie joined us on this night of terror! She told me that there was a Bram Stoker App (made by the Science Gallery), that was devised for the festival. The App uses your phone GPS to tell you if you are in a hotspot for vampires or ghosts in Dublin. When it tells you, you are, you take a photo of the street or area, and a ghost will appear on your image! Or so Orbie told me… While we waited in the queue to go into the Castle courtyard… we tried to find some ghosts!

Then we got bored and the queue started moving, so we were swept inside and pretty much forgot until now about this App!

There was the chilling sound of people moaning like ghosts… The idea of the event was scenes and characters from Dracula. As the crowd moved forward under the arch into the courtyard, we were met with a massive moon display, against the backdrop of a dark and eerie courtyard. There was a man sitting within the moon, screaming and shouting…

We were pulled into a dark world, filled with vampires and ghouls. There were performers wandering around the cold courtyard, screaming and hissing.

As I was standing staring at an eerie display (wedding dresses hanging off a man-made tree) a ghoulish performer came up to me and started pulling at a plastic bag I was holding (it contained a proof copy of our book, which I was handing off to Ridley). I gave a nervous laugh, “you’re really getting into this” I said, there was absolutely no break in character, she raced off to pull at some of the other people (some of the crowd was also dressed up for the night as vampire’s and devils – she was particularly fascinated by these people, me in my north face jacket didn’t do much for her! Boring I guess!). 

As we walked from display-to-display, a rock band played Gothic sounding music under arches lit in an eerie green glow…

Vampire girls dressed in haunting white dresses stalked through the crowd. They came together at one display (a bench lit by a single street lamp) and performed a strange struggle – pulling out of a young girl dressed in white (eventually turning her into a vampire). I think these girls were Dracula’s vampire women!

As Orbie was talking her photos of this performance… this girl crept up behind her!

Naturally, I started snapping photos, THEN, I said “Orbie… behind you!” and she turned and jumped out of the way with a yelp, “JAYSUS”!

The crowd started to move then over to a macabre display of an autopsy table… two vampire ghouls were pulling at the body… Afterward I got some photos and it looks pretty creepy… The face… the face! Very scary!

All the while, a carriage was working its way through the crowd… the man inside looks like he could be someone important… eh? Well, yep, as it turns out, this guy was playing Bram Stoker…

He was heading towards this large wooden construct;

Once he reached the top he read to us, telling us to stay in the light, and out of darkness… away from the shadows…

He then sat back, writing at a typewriter.

Nearby, there was a display in the corner that looked important.. 

There was a massive coffin beside it… Dracula making his way from the port (as in the book… which for me is actually the Gary Oldman movie… I remember the port from the movie!)

Out of it came this massive skeleton! Dracula!

A performer dressed up as a more manageable-sized Dracula, made his way to Bram in his wooden tower, along with all the hissing vampire ladies!

Dracula looks like he’s smiling here, haha, going, ‘this is great! look at me Mammy!’ haha

Bram brought the night to an end, with a brief final reading from the book. It was pretty cool.

Ridley: The event was really interesting! (Though it was wet and absolutely freezing!! Our hands were red raw, time to buy some gloves, me thinks!).

Latimer: Yea! My hands felt like I’d stuck them in a -80 freezer! The pain traveled right up my arms! It was so cold! God bless my north face jacket (the best buy ever!) – it did save me from the cutting breeze, I just needed some gloves!

Well, afterward everyone made their way home, out of Bram Stoker’s dreams and back to reality… Which took the form of a woman dancing in the window of her apartment (which faced an entrance to Dublin Castle)! She had the lights on, the curtains pulled back and was going wild dancing. Everyone stood there laughing (of course she knew everyone could see!). Then she jumped away, leaving her two flatmates (who were sitting down on the couch) staring blankly out at us! 

The festival was fun, hopefully they’ll make it a yearly thing! It would be pretty interesting. We’ll hopefully be more prepared next year! 😦

Urban Fantasy

Latimer: It’s hard to be average and ‘normal’.

It’s sort of boring. Scratch that, it is boring. However, I’m not the sort who’s always unhappy about that fact. Because to be fair, life ain’t so bad; when all’s said and done and you’re healthy and content, the fact that there aren’t any monsters or mystical stuff outside your door doesn’t really matter, it’s more annoying that there isn’t than depressing.

But that doesn’t stop the mind from wondering what it would be like if there was a world beneath the everyday one. I’m talking vampires and werewolves and all that stuff that humanity has always had a morbid fascination with.

We might consider ourselves in this day and age enlightened and above the flights of fancy of yesteryear, but that’s not really the case. We do still think about magic and monsters. Hell, there’s still religion isn’t there- angels and demons? So, we dream there’s a divine overseeing force watching over us, because it’s what we want to believe. If that force takes the form of God or vampires and fairies, what’s the real difference?

I like thinking about the ‘world beneath ours’… I don’t believe it’s there, but the imagining is half the fun for me. I like to picture what it would be like to turn the corner and see the unseen- to be told the great secret and be let into the mysterious world beyond this world.

And I think there’s lots of people like that. And that’s why we have Urban Fantasy on the up and up lately. Well, it’s only recently I’ve come across the term ‘Urban Fantasy’ or UF to describe a genre of books- though possibly we are more likely to see it described as ‘paranormal romance’… hmm, I don’t like to hang around the bookshelves in shops that describe it in this way! Bad marketing people; it sort of cheapens the stories to be classified in this way!

Urban Fantasy has peaked my interest lately.

I guess though, it’s not a lie to say it’s Twilight’s doing that True Blood and co. are on our screens and that the bookshelves are now awash with UF.

 It’s like there’s a special guideline authors of UF must follow; a girl, not special, finds out she’s special, meets vampire, meets werewolf and them comes the secret supernatural community wherein she meets fairies, demons, angels etc!

Sounds like I have a problem with this? Ah-ha, no, I don’t. This is the bedrock of UF.

It’s just I’m never fulfilled by it. It seems the idea is more perfect that what people deliver. Some worlds have been good (I really enjoyed the Chloe Saunders books Kelley Armstrong wrote)

But I find myself still looking for that good one… TV show or book I don’t mind.

So, where did I start with Urban Fantasy? Well, many years ago with Buffy and Angel. That was probably the start-proper for most people. I adored Buffy and Angel. But even they failed to deliver a good ending, leaving fans idling on what might have been but never was.

Then came Supernatural…

Now this is a funny one; it’s two brothers for a start, with a mixed up relationship with their missing father… and for me, I like mixed up relationships with families in books, but there was no ‘love’ in this, no women…. and I thought- that’s not really what I want; I need a relationship damn it! And I let Supernatural go.

Never watched it when it started…. BUT years later I came back to it and I was blown away!

It is the best. Better than Buffy or Angel at their height. I love Sam and Dean (gorgeous of course but as characters as well). I love sharp-talking Bobby and the Impala (yeah, even the car becomes a character in it’s own right). 

The whole show is witty, cool, charming, depressing, moving- everything you want! Even the soundtrack is cool, with classical rock songs in every episode. It has demons, ghosts and gods and all sorts of things that go bump in the night. But mostly it has this great brother-relationship between Sam and Dean. Even the way the show is shot makes it look cold and gritty. There never seems to be any bright colours. It’s always blues and greys.

I love this show. And I find that every time a ‘woman’ comes into the boy’s life I want her out of it! I think to myself ‘this isn’t for girls! This is just the boys! Get out woman!’ It’s funny how you don’t need the relationship in this one, just the Urban Fantasy.

Supernatural is by far the best.

That said my interest in True Blood was peaked when it came out. And whoooh, what a disappointment that was!

Basically it descends pretty fast into gratuitous sex-scenes and there’s hardly a thing to like about anyone anymore.

Eric Northman is most certainly the only reason I watch it.

Alexander Skarsgård is a beautiful man. But…. well, maybe he is actually a good actor, but in True Blood I find his accent (whatever he’s putting on because I know he’s Swedish, but the accent must be American via the moon via Sweden) weird and off-putting and his acting unbelievable. 

Still he is beautiful and I know the character is bad and devilish and yummy so I overlook the portrayal.

Bill is an utter joke, his acting is bad and the character is just so ‘blaaah’.

Sookie is annoying (though Anna Pacquin can act).

Vinnie from Home and Away plays Jason Stackhouse- he has changed from his ‘Summer Bay’ days; my word has he!

He looks great and sounds completely American. In fact I didn’t even know him at first; very unlike me. I notice the ex-Home and Away crowd popping up here and there on American TV shows. Anyway, Vinnie is amazing in True Blood. He’s a great actor and actually I like the Jason character (at least his sex scenes serve a purpose illustrating his feckless character)- but it’s not like he can hold the show on his own, it’d be too much of a struggle to make up for everyone else!  

True Blood is a funny one. I don’t like it, but I still watch it. I don’t know why. I keep up-to-date with it- but I fast-forward through ALOT of it. I think it’s probably loss of Supernatural. Which won’t be back until September.

Has True Blood just caught the people looking for a summer boredom-UF fix? In me, I think it has.

This brings me onto another UF book series turned TV. I’m late to these. I know. It’s not that I don’t know they’re there, it’s just I keep them on the periphery until they do something to peak my interest.

Here enter the Vampire Diaries…. and what lured me in? Isn’t it always a bad-boy… Damon Salvatore!

So… I got the general idea of it- two vampire brothers fighting over the human girl with a mysterious family history- nuff-said, I’m in!

And so, I settled down and munched my way through the 1st series.

And I really enjoyed it. I’m not saying it’s obsession worthy, it’s not without its flaws, but I’d easily overlook the small hic-ups, because it reminds me of early season-Buffy (the last seasons were just a joke). The strange town protecting itself against the vampire threat that none of the average folk know about- only the overseeing forces…

The vampires are old school, blood suckers as well. Monsters, the way they should be (mostly). There’s gore and a certain amount of the viewer feeling being a vampire is not a good thing. A nice touch here is that the Salvatore brothers have enchanted rings that mean they can go out in the daylight. It gives an added joy to see the daytime with the vampires as opposed to having to leave them to the night.

It’s set in an American town called ‘Mystic Falls’ (what a name, nice) and it’s very picturesque… because of Supernatural and shows where people live or pass through (regularly) these, woodland/town/village places in America, I’m left thinking ‘is this what it’s like in the ‘country’ in America?’ and ‘I want to see it’. There’s something nice and quaint about the town that’s getting harassed by monsters. I like it.

A lot of problems come from a bad leading lady. Elena is mouthy, but she’s not stupid and she works things out pretty quickly all by herself. So, yeah she’s a good enough character. They’re never perfect. Could I say there’s one I love- no, not really, but I can name plenty I dislike (Sookie, Anita Blake, Cassandra Palmer, Elena the werewolf from Kelley Armstrong’s books and Bella Swan).

So if I don’t hate, I like well-enough- I like Elena.

Her friends have secrets, her family is hiding things. Her town has known misfortune of the vampiric sort before… hmm, interesting right?

So let’s look at our leading men shall we? I’m wondering why is Damon so much more handsome than Stefan?

Is this a sign (haha). She’ll end up with him by the end (not because he’s better looking though- if Elena/or we, meet him first she’ll end up with him- factoid (it’s an unspoken rule)- did she meet him first in the books I wonder? I’ll never read them, so I’ll just go by the TV show)… mark my words… Damon is the troubled soul, he needs her more.

The actor that plays him has amazing eyes (stunning is the word! Unnatural!)… I won’t get into that though, it cheapens the musing to harp on about the man (he’s lovely… mmmm…. yummers).

As a character, Damon is as bad as they come (bad as in evil… well, he DOES kill people, many and without a second thought). He’s conflicted and caught up in his past. But his character evolves and the actor that plays him does a fine job at playing a cocky bastard. Damon reminds me of Dean from Supernatural (and I adore Dean). They have the same sort of rock-devil-may-care attitude. And younger brother complexs I guess.

Okay, The Vampire Diaries isn’t perfect. But it’s comes worlds closer to it than the likes of True Blood. I’m looking forward to the next series basically. It was enjoyable. Young and fresh and yeah the backdrop is a lot ‘nicer’ than that of True Blood.

It’s taking some time for the good Urban Fantasy to rise above the rest of the crap. But maybe it’s a case of getting back to basics… get back to ground roots early-Buffy-style.

Why do we have to be subjected to the porn without plot? Come on, people. It’s nice to have a bit (don’t get me wrong), but too much really leaves a bad after taste in the psyche!